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A sampling of pumpkin beers

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on Oct. 17, 2012 at 6:14 am | No Comments »
October 17, 2012 8:23 am

Pumpkin Beer Taster

As detailed in my story today, pumpkin beer has emerged as a seasonal tradition among craft and industrial brewer across the country. For this story, I spent hours hunting down and sampling various brands of pumpkin seasonals – yes, hard work, but someone’s got to do it. (My expense report this month will be interesting.)

Around South Sound, it’s not hard to find a dozen or more pumpkin beers, but you should know that they are not created equal. Most were at least palatable, but a few were not worth drinking. Read on for an overview of some of the better bottles I’d recommend and where you can find them in local bottle shops. If you’re still thirsty, I’ve included information about this weekend’s Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, where you’ll find dozens of pumpkin beers of all flavors from all over the country.

Punk’n Harvest Ale

Brewer: Uinta Brewing, Utah

Style: Pumpkin ale

Alcohol: 4%

From the brewer: “Malt and hops accented with roasted pumpkin and spices of the season. A subtle hint of vanilla and honey.”

Tasting notes: Organic roasted pumpkin ale reminiscent of farm-fresh cider. Pale color with lacy head. Sweet and lightly spiced. One of the lighter beers that we tried – maybe not as intimidating to some tastes. score: 75

Local availability: Gravity Beer Market, World Beers, 99 Bottles

Night Owl

Brewer: Elysian Brewing, Seattle

Style: Pumpkin ale

Alcohol: 5.9 %

From the Brewer: “A very drinkable pumpkin ale – brewed with seven and a half pounds of pumpkin per barrel and spiced in conditioning with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.”

Tasting notes: Elysian’s original pumpkin ale. Medium bodied with ample mouthfeel. Well-balanced with nuanced hints of spice and a dry, ginger-ale finish. score: 87

Local availability: Supermarkets, bottle and specialty shops. Note: Available as part of Elysian’s Pumpkin Patch box sets, which includes a four pack sampler of  22-ounce bottles of Night Owl, Dark O’ The Moon Pumpkin Stout, Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Hansel And Gretal Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner

Punkin Ale

Brewer: Dogfish Head, Delaware

Style: Pumpkin brown ale

Alcohol: 7%

From the brewer: “A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with.”

Tasting notes: From a brewery known for sometimes over-the-top beers, this one gets props for restrained, balanced use of pumpkin, spice and hops. Had a nice consistent carbonation and head retention. Brown sugar notes on the first sip with a clean finish and no cloying aftertaste. score: 88

Local availability: 99 Bottles, Tacoma Boys, Cost Plus World Market

Harlot’s Harvest

Brewer: Pike Brewing, Seattle

Style: Belgian strong pumpkin ale

Alcohol: 8.5%

From the brewer: “On the palate Harlot’s Harvest is round and rich with a burst of caramel and molasses yielding a smooth sweetness reminiscent of pumpkin pie, and the boldness of a Belgian, monastic-style, strong dark ale.”

Tasting notes: Thin carbonation, caramel and brown sugar flavors balance with alcohol astringency and pie spices.

Local availability: Supermarkets, bottle and specialty shops.


The Great Pumpkin

Brewer: Elysian Brewing, Seattle

Style: Imperial pumpkin ale

Alcohol: 8.1%

From the brewer: “Pours deep copper with ghostly white head. Intense pumpkin, sugar and spice on the nose with a nice bready and malty backdrop to tame all those autumn spices into a remarkably smooth, balanced and delectable fall treat.”

Tasting notes: A bigger bodied ale with a yeasty backbone and noticeable alcohol presence. Ample head and carbonation. Let it warm up a bit to enjoy its full complexity. score: 93

Local availability: Supermarkets, bottle and specialty shops

Pumking Ale

Brewer: Southern Tier Brewing Co., New York

Style: Imperial pumpkin ale

Alcohol: 8.6

From the brewer: “Take a whiff of this complex ale and your journey has just begun. At first sip a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds.”

Tasting notes: Nothing subtle in this East Coast cult beer. Tastes like a dense, sweet slice of pumpkin bread with extra helping of seasonal spices, especially nutmeg. Will come on a little cloying for some tastes, especially after more than a glass. score: 91

Local availability: World Beers, Gravity Beer Market, Cost Plus World Market, 99 Bottles

Dark ‘O the Moon

Brewer: Elysian Brewing, Seattle

Style: Pumpkin Stout

Alcohol: 6.5%

From the brewer: “Pours dark as night with creamy tan head. A little smokiness on the nose with malty bittersweet chocolate and a little coffee with subtle earthy pumpkin and spices for an overall nice and creamy mouth.”

Tasting notes: Pumpkin and spice complements the roasted, chocolate and coffee character of this stout. Smoky character with noticeable cinnamon component. Another one that unfolds at cellar temperature. score: 87

Local availability: Supermarkets, bottle and specialty shops

Where to find it: Great Pumpkin Beer Festival

What: Eighth annual event hosted by Seattle Elysian Brewing with 60-plus pumpkin brews from the Northwest and beyond.

When: 4-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (sold out), 5-10 p.m. Saturday.

Where: 5510 Airport Way S., Seattle


Tickets only sold in advance. They were selling fast, so get yours now.



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